JOHN Q | TEN YEARS AGO THIS MONTH
by Alan Young
Ten years ago this month saw the release of 'John Q'. The title character played by Denzel Washington is a good Christian man, struggling to provide for his family. Unable to support his wife and son, belongings being repossessed, losing hours at his work John is running out of options to make ends meet. With all this going on he is forced to take on every parent's worst nightmare when his son suffers a life threatening cardiac event. After going through mounds of paperwork and being given the run around by modern day "customer service", he has nowhere else to turn, no options other than a divine intervention. So he is forced to take things in to his own hands.
A great job is made of directing by Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook) and written by James Kearns (John Q, hasn't done anything else of real note). The film tackles a range of emotive issues such as politics, healthcare, media intrusion and ethical responsibilities. Although not based on a true story, the film touches upon some big issues that are even more prevalent now. The attitude towards the American healthcare system is apparent, especially when they arrived at the hospital. The doctors and nurses are more concerned with getting the paperwork completed than actually reassuring the patient's relatives. The plot keeps you guessing throughout and got me invested from the start. It doesn't matter what walk of life you're from, at least one of the topics will affect you.
There are some excellent supporting performances in this film. Anne Heche (six days, seven nights) nails the callous "ice queen" persona of Rebecca Payne. She garnered a genuine hatred from me, by giving the family no time to prepare and diving into the insurance issues. James Woods also gives a noteworthy performance; I couldn't imagine anyone else playing the surgeon in this type of setting. He gives the role a real believability, swarthy, smug, ruthless and insincere at times. In fact very similar to the role he played on 'Shark'. To finish off, David Thornton had a fairly small part to play as Jimmy Palumbo, however without this character there would be something lacking. There is a scene where he is talking to the media and you can feel the pace of the film changing. Thornton delivers everything with impact. Unfortunately not every performance was at that level. Kimberly Elise playing Denise Archibald was near intolerable. Her endless screeching, "DO SOMETHING!!!" gets really old, quickly!
Overall John Q is an engaging film, which makes you think about things from an ethical stand point. Well written with good acting performances helping to get the audience involved in the storyline. Despite exploring a highly debated issue it still manages to infuse a small amount of humour to bring a level of balance to the film. Ten years on and this film is still as relevant today as it was then. Definitely worth dragging out the archives, if you're looking for a good thriller.